Students for a Smarter Planet ..leaders with conscience

There is no doubt that the job market is changing. In this great episode of TED Talks economist Andrew McAfee suggests that mobile humanoid robots might actually take some of our jobs. How is it good news to us? According to McAfee it is a good news, because:
1. Technological progress is what allows us to continue to increase volume and quality of goods while prices go down;
2. Once the androids start doing some jobs we get freed up from drudgery and toil which creates an entirely different society.
“A society where the creators and the discoverers and the performers and innovators come together with their financiers to talk about issues, enlighten and provoke each other”.

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We have amazing new possibilities but they also create some concerns because part of the society will not be able to keep their jobs. It can be solved by encouraging entrepreneurship and teaching students appropriate skills but what can you do in order to have a sustainable career in the Age of Machines?

In a recent article published by Harvard Business Review, Monique Valcour states  that “a sustainable career is dynamic and flexible; it features continuous learning , periodic renewal, the security that come from employability, and harmonious fit with your skills, interests, and values”. Moreover, “a sustainable career is built upon the ability to show that you can fill a need that someone is willing to pay for”.

In my interview with STG CTO for Public Sector Timothy Durniak, when I asked him how he managed to build a successful career with IBM for more than 31 years he said “I knew that it was important to be T- shaped as well as Comb-shaped, that is why I continuously improved my skills”. Along the way he has been a software developer, solution tester, information developer, solution architect, solution trainer, help desk leader, methodologist, process engineer, project manager, infrastructure architect and enterprise architect. Having seen all sides of what it takes to deliver uniquely positioned IT solutions, Timothy Durniak now serves as Chief Technology Officer for Public Sector of the Systems and Technology group focusing on government, smarter cities and education industries within that. He constantly develops new skills based on what value he can bring to the company. The secret of doing so successfully is the method he is using.  He takes an expertise in one set of “teeth” of his “comb” (enterprise architecture, infrastructure architecture, system thinking) and applies it to similar problems in another domain (modernizing social services) thus creating a new portion of the “comb”. which is the perfect example of the comb-shaped thinking.

comb-shaped person

Being Comb-shaped requires broad base with multiple expertise areas which gives the shape of a comb. Those skills are hard to maintain but they would help you to be in charge of your career.

If you would like to craft a sustainable career in the age of Technology and Information:

  • Think of yourself as your own career advisor.  Learn new skills to become specialist in many areas. Craft your career choices based on where technology is going. Don’t get stuck with one specific role;
  • Find ways you could add value to your employer and propose solutions;
  • Seek opportunities to work with people who can teach you something, seek for a mentor who would inspire and direct you the right way.


Guest Editor: Saule Simonaityte

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